Happiness Hues: Painting Your Life with Positivity
Awareness Self Help

Happiness Hues: Painting Your Life with Positivity


Happiness, an emotion that holds the utmost priority in our lives, is pretty hard to define. It can be anything from getting an A+ to seeing your loved ones, from having a scoop of ice cream to watching your favourite movie, from wearing your favourite dress to nurturing your tomato plant, it ranges from the tiniest experience of joy to larger-than-life achievements. But if I ask you to define happiness will you be able to describe it in a sentence?

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The feeling of happiness is so simple yet so complex to describe. But if we try to generalize the term, we can define happiness as a feeling of joy, contentment, satisfaction, love and fulfilment. On the surface level, some of us can say happiness is something that feels positive. It’s the most idealized emotion to us, everyone wants to experience it in everything they do. But for others, it’s more than just a feeling. There are two ways to look at it, one says, that happiness is a state that we achieve through our constant efforts, and another way describes it as a journey.

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Though you may look into it through your lenses, sometimes even if we are disheartened, moving forward with a smiling face as if nothing happened, is quite pressurizing. It brings a complex condition where you have to suppress your feelings of distress and try to fake a smile. While the pursuit of happiness is a choice one takes, the pressure of being happy all the time makes an individual rather unhappy. How? Let’s see…

Defining Happiness

Happiness being a widely recognised and defined term, is indeed subjective. Most of the time happiness is used as a generic term and can define life right now or how a person perceives life so far. Psychologists and social scientists often refer to happiness as a “subjective well-being” rather than the term itself. This subjective well-being on the other hand has two main components to it; the balance of emotions– experiencing more positive feelings (both in quality and quantity) than negative, and, life satisfaction– the satisfaction in different areas of life. Another theory is suggested by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, that it is the one human desire, and all other human desires exist as a way to obtain happiness. According to Aristotle, there are four stages of happiness:

  1. through immediate gratification,
  2. through comparison and achievement,
  3. through positive contributions, and
  4. through achieving fulfilment.

Aristotle also stated two types of happiness:

  1. Hedonia: sense of satisfaction through attaining pleasure,
  2. Eudaimonia: a sense of satisfaction through attaining meaning and purpose.

In modern-day psychology, these are pretty simply presented as pleasure gratification and purpose identification. In other words, it is a short-term experience of happiness, while eudaimonia is a fulfilment of self.

Read More: What Makes You Happy: Exploring the Psychological Foundation of Happiness

Deconstructing the Feeling of Happiness

It is a complex feeling to describe. It can take many forms and If we break “Happiness” into pieces, we will find:

  • Pride: a feeling of satisfaction through achieving something.
  • Joy: a brief feeling of happiness mostly defining a state of satisfaction.
  • Optimism: a positive outlook on life, i.e. finding positivity in every aspect.
  • Gratitude: an appreciative, and grounding feeling including thankfulness.
  • Contentment: a state of feeling satisfaction about the present or life so far.
  • Excitement: a feeling of positive anticipation, or looking forward to attaining something.

Science and Myths about Happiness

1. “Don’t be sad, think about others who are in a more difficult situation than you, at least you are not in their situation! Smile, and be happy!”

It is indeed a most sought-after emotion for all of us, so much so that it feels like committing a crime when you experience any emotion other than happiness. The internet is filled with self-help posts and blogs that teach us how to be happy all the time. But, have you ever asked yourself, is it necessary to be happy all the time? The pressure of staying happy can be extremely painful and challenging for us. It most of the time invalidates the other emotions. As humans, we are bound to experience a range of emotions throughout our lifetime dynamically, and it’s the most normal thing one can experience. But why do we always have to negate our feelings of sadness, anger, worry, or other such emotions just to feel happy?

Read More: Do you hide your Sadness with Smiley Emoji?

Imagine a race of emotions where no matter how much the other emotions try to win, happiness always takes the trophy home. Disheartening…right? Suppression is a defence mechanism that protects our mind from anxiety by pushing down our thoughts, feelings and emotions. A human mind and body can experience all sorts of emotions both mentally and physiologically that come in the way. Suppression of other emotions can lead to serious issues in the long run, if used excessively. It is quite natural, that when you voluntarily push down your emotions, at some point in time they might burst out due to excessive pressure.

You might think that experiencing sadness or anger might alter the course of life of an individual, and he/she might not feel happiness again. To your wonder, humans are built in a way that they can adapt to changes, and no individual can experience any emotion throughout their lives. Some days are bright, sunny and radiating, while other days are cloudy and not so bright. Anyhow the situation will change and bring new challenges (and maybe new things to laugh and cry for).

Read More: Joy of Missing Out: Finding Happiness in The Unplugged Moments

2. “You can achieve happiness if you do this…”

The above quote is true and is a myth itself. Let’s make it simple here, it is neither a material nor that it comes from one. It’s a way of living. If you believe, achieving a particular milestone can make you happy for the rest of your life then think of the last time you wanted one, which then made you believe the same. But that didn’t make you happy for the rest of your life, right? As you gradually wanted something new. A need once fulfilled, is now replaced by another need. An individual can indeed achieve happiness, but here the term is defined as a “way of living”. One might not achieve happiness through things but one can master the art of living a fulfilling life.

Cultivating Happiness

The first step to being happy is to accept the fact that you can not be happy all the time. You will experience a range of emotions throughout life. Managing your emotions is way more important than just being “happy”. Instead of questioning why I’m not able to experience happiness, take small steps towards creating a change.

  • Consider therapy: counselling/therapy can help you reframe the negatives into positive alternatives, and change your overall outlook.
  • Look for sustainable development of self: Similar to the types defined by Aristotle, “eudaimonia”, chooses purpose over short-term goals for attaining inner happiness.
  • Live in the present: we either think of the past or the future, it’s rare for us to live in the present. Being in the moment mindfully makes an individual experience the essence of life.
  • Acceptance and self-love: The first step towards attaining happiness is self-acceptance. Having unconditional regard towards yourself and the acceptance of oneself can bring joy and harmony in your life.
  • Reframe negative thoughts: People have a natural tendency to pay more attention to the things that are negative than the positives. The next time when you find yourself stuck in a negative bias, try alternative ways to look into it.
References +
  • https://positivepsychology.com/what-is-happiness/#:~:text=Happiness%20can%20be%20defined%20as,sought%20after%20state%20of%20being.
  • https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-happiness-4869755#toc-signs-of-happiness
  • https://www-psychologytoday-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/happiness?amp=&amp_gsa=1&amp_js_v=a9&usqp=mq331AQIUAKwASCAAgM%3D#amp_tf=From%20%251%24s&aoh=17059219252613&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.psychologytoday.com%2Fus%2Fbasics%2Fhappiness
  • https://positivepsychology.com/happiness/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4449495/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3008658/
  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/social-sciences/happiness
  • https://www-psychologytoday-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/philosophy-stirred-not-shaken/201705/think-positive-the-pressure-be-happy?amp=&amp_gsa=1&amp_js_v=a9&usqp=mq331AQIUAKwASCAAgM%3D#amp_ct=1705922178437&amp_tf=From%20%251%24s&aoh=17059220745737&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.psychologytoday.com%2Fintl%2Fblog%2Fphilosophy-stirred-not-shaken%2F201705%2Fthink-positive-the-pressure-be-happy

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